Monday, 22 April 2013

The Weekend

After a visit Friday morning produced a NIGHTINGALE (78), I was looking forward to a decent weekend walk. On Saturday Stephen saw Cuckoo, Redstart and Yellow Wagtail! so my hopes were high for Sunday.
Arriving later than planned, around 7am, one of the first birds I heard was a LESSER WHITETHROAT (79) it showed briefly with a BLACKCAP then disappeared towards Park Field. I thought, what a good start, there was plenty to see NUTHATCHES sung or called almost constantly, I found a TREECREEPER taking nest material to it's perfect hanging piece of bark. A LESSER REDPOLL flew over and LONG TAILED TITS had the same idea as the Treecreeper and were flying around with the odd feather in their beaks. I sporadically checked the skies for Osprey or Red Kite but to no avail, there were again, at least 5 BUZZARDS in the area and  eventually I found something different when a PEREGRINE glided through. A KINGFISHER was on the bottom lake and the NIGHTINGALE again sung from it's favourite spot where a LITTLE OWL popped up for a quick look around. Only 2 SWALLOWS were seen all morning but as I watched across the valley 4 SAND MARTIN (80) flew north, they were soon followed by the welcome sound of a CUCKOO (81) calling from the bridleway. In all 55 species were seen and as ever I missed a couple of regulars from that list, later in the day a visit to Goudhurst did produce a Red Kite!!! still time for one to show up here they can be seen up to the end of May passing through. Below are a selection of pics from the last few days.

Little Owl


Long Tailed Tit

Common Whitethroat



Tuesday, 16 April 2013

A bit from today and the last holiday pics

This morning was quite a contrast to the last couple of days, it was drizzling and the wind was quite fresh. It took a while to find any birds, then a couple of COMMON WHITETHROAT (78) appeared in one of the hedges, a CHIFFCHAFF sung but that was the only one this morning, heading back up towards the car amazingly the RING OUZEL reappeared, it was looked for again later but had disappeared. Stephen did have a single House Martin this morning and later Pete had the first Nightingale here of the year so still plenty to see. With poor light this morning I'll revert back to the holiday pics for the last time.
Basilisk Lizard

Green Heron

Arenal Volcano

Three Toed Sloth

White Faced Capuchin

White Faced Capuchin

Magnificent Frigatebirds

Common Nighthawk

Monday, 15 April 2013

A Busy Weekend, with some dodgy record shots

With Saturday morning starting dry and calm I was hoping for a couple of new birds on the guided walk. The highlights early on were the first singing BLACKCAP (73) of the year, closely followed by not one but two KINGFISHERS, one of which landed briefly in view. There were plenty of CHIFFCHAFF singing maybe 8 in total, also a SWALLOW flew north, some winter hangers on were, about 6 REDWING and 5 SISKIN. Around the fields SKYLARK and YELLOWHAMMER did their stuff, at least 4 BUZZARDS were seen adding to the earlier SPARROWHAWK and the very early morning KESTREL. Another new bird for the year flew over when we neared Digdog Lane, CORMORANT (74). 48 species were seen in all and the first butterfly of the year was seen, a Peacock.
I strarted late Sunday, Stephen had already recorded COMMON WHITETHROAT, JACK SNIPE, LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER and another BLACKCAP early on. My walk with Bec provided some varied sightings including 2 Toads swimming across the top lake, a Grass Snake in the small pond in the wood plus Brimstone, Peacock, Small White and Small Tortoiseshell on the butterfly front. Birds came in the form of several NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER, MARSH TIT and the years first LINNET!! (75) for me. Best of all on this walk was a female MARSH HARRIER (76) flying east over Bull and Birches.
I set out again around 4.30pm for a skywatch, I set myself up looking pretty much due south. In an hour I had a minimum of 7 BUZZARDS, 1 SPARROWHAWK, 6 SWALLOW, 4 PIED WAGTAIL, 1 CORMORANT, 1 LITTLE EGRET and a few gulls. While I was doing this I didn't realise Stephen was looking across the valley to the east but I joined him quickly after he rang and said he was watching a male RING OUZEL (77) in a field not far from the restaurant!!! The bird showed well and was still there this morning. A really great weekend, Ring Ouzel was new for the patch for me and it was Stephens 3rd sighting for the patch.
Below are some random pics from the weekend.
Probably the best Jay pic I've managed so far, not difficult as the rest have been distant and out of focus!!

Common Toads, I think.

Grass Snake

Record shot Marsh Harrier

Blue Tit

Long Tailed Tit

Another record shot Ring Ouzel!!

Friday, 12 April 2013

The last couple of days and a couple more holiday snaps

I got out before work yesterday and today for a couple of short walks, we also put the moth traps on last night for the first time this year.
Yesterday it was damp and misty, there were over 100 thrushes still around maybe a few more FIELDFARE than REDWING. The other fields were fairly quiet, a few YELLOWHAMMER were setting up territory and the CHAFFINCHES were well spread, instead of flocking, 2 CHIFFCHAFF were singing and a LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL called from within the mist and then appeared out of the murk.
This morning was again not great visibility with fairly steady drizzle, a COMMON BUZZARD up and about early as we made our way to the trap, a couple of small flocks of REDWING headed east and a flock of 30 or so FIELDFARE were over the wood heading sort of south. As I spoke to Pete near the restaurant a LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER flew almost over our heads and over the veg garden. A look at the lake produced 2 GREYLAG GEESE, MOORHEN, a couple of singing CHIFFCHAFF and a pair of LONG TAILED TITS. I headed back to wait for a lift and on the way 3 SWALLOWS (72) flew strongly north, they definitely weren't stopping. 
For a change I'm going to list the moths we recorded this morning with a rough estimate of numbers:-

Engrailed - 1
Shoulder Striped - 1
Twin-Spotted Quaker - 1
Early Tooth Striped - 2
Oak Beauty - 7
Early Grey - 1
Grey Shoulder Knot - 1
Chestnut - 3
Common Quaker - 13
Small Quaker - 10
Hebrew Character - 18
Clouded Drab - 15 
Lead Coloured Drab - 2
Yellow Horned - 1

No pics from around the patch due to the dreary weather so here are a few more from Costa Rica. Sorry I did take loads!!

Black Throated Green Warbler

Common Tody Flycatcher

Green Kingfisher

Prothontary Warbler

"Anyone seen any fish?"

Bare Throated Tiger Heron

Spectacled Caiman

Ringed Kingfisher

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Quick catch-up and holiday snippet

While I was away SHELDUCK and RED KITE were reported on the patch, the Shelduck only being the second record, otherwise WOODCOCK, WATER RAILS and BRAMBLING were all still around. My first visit was last Friday (5th) and I added COOT (70) to the year list, we seem to get one or two in spring that hang around for a few weeks, they've only stayed to breed once. FIELDFARE and REDWING were still well into double figures with the odd flock of Redwing flying north.
Another couple of short walks at the weekend added the latest ever first CHIFFCHAFF (71) on Sunday 7th. Other birds included 3 COMMON BUZZARDS and 3 KESTREL, MARSH TIT, COAL TIT and a NUTHATCH carrying mud to a potential new home. Hopefully the weekend will bring a few more birds as there is another guided walk on Saturday.
So to the holiday, we ended up in Costa Rica, courtesy of last years redundancy! It was a beautiful country and the people were great, we struggled a bit with typical holiday tummy stuff from day 4 which did stop us doing a couple of things but not too much. It wasn't full on birding but we added new species on every outing. We met fellow holidaymakers at each place as you do, some birders some not but all great to swap stories and experiences with.
We stayed at 6 different hotels in the 2 weeks and enjoyed the drives between each place seeing a lot of the country, great mountains, volcanoes, jungles and wetlands. I'm not going to try to list all the birds of which we managed just over 200 species but I will just mention a few, with pics of a few too.
After a night in San Jose where CLAY COLOURED ROBIN (national bird) nested in the hotel garden we headed to Sarapiqui and a small hotel that had some nice grounds which we duly explored, the highlights here where the one tree that had nesting LONG TAILED TYRANT, COLLARED ARACARI and BLACK CHEEKED WOODPECKER  and the appearance of the beautiful GREEN HONEYEATER. STRAWBERRY POISON DART FROG was something else we were really excited to see, they are tiny!!
The pics below were all taken just in the hotel garden although we did visit a local Natinal Park as well.
Rufous Tailed Hummingbird, the most common Hummer on the trip

Green Honeycreeper

Collared Aracari

Golden Hooded Tanager, another stunner just seen here and at Arenal

Passerinis Tanager, common in the north and east

Keel Billed Toucan, I'm always amazed by that beak!!

Yellow Faced Grassquit

Long Tailed Tyrants

Strawberry Poison Dart Frog, it was a bit dark so the ISO was very high for this shot as you can see.